HARROW boys’ team did the borough proud as they were crowned champions at the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games Indoor Cricket Finals at Lord’s Cricket Ground on Sunday 3 March.
After a successful qualifying campaign at Harrow Leisure Centre last month, the boys battled through three rounds of matches, culminating in a three-wicket win over Wandsworth in a thrilling final, securing a second title in three years after their win in 2011.
The north west London borough saw off stiff competition on their way to picking up the trophy. Silver medallists Wandsworth showed sharp fielding as they beat last year’s champions Redbridge in their semi-final, but they were unable to hold off Harrow’s batsmen, who came out on top 73-72 with three wickets to spare.
Harrow’s abilities became quickly apparent in their opening quarter final match against Islington, watched with great interest by Harrow Mayor Nizam Ismail.
They enjoyed a 103-72 win, with no wickets lost. In the last four they faced Tower Hamlets, who also succumbed to Harrow’s impressive form at the crease, notching up another six wicket victory before they wrapped up gold against Wandsworth.
Harrow Team Manager Raj Kanagaraj was delighted with his team’s performance: “The boys played well and kept to their task. Every game was tough and they performed well and made me proud. Lords is a great place to play, and they all enjoyed themselves.
“They have trained well and they played so well as a team. It’s not an individual game - if you perform well as a team that is vital. They kept to the basics, bowling straight, fielding well, getting the singles and running well between the wickets. That’s how we won our matches. They applied the basics and you can see it from the results.
“The boys were given an added boost by the presence of our Mayor, they wanted to perform well and they have done it. Harrow boys’ team have qualified for Lords five times in the last eight years and won the competition four times.
“We have got some talented cricketers in Harrow. My task is to identify that talent and select a squad and make them work together and play as a team. The boys just needed to apply the basics and enjoy the game.
“We had 60 boys came for the trials this year from various schools and clubs. I would like to thank all the parents, players, Coaches Chandra Hirani and Tharshan Kanagaraj and also Harvi Singh and Errol Mckenzie from the Harrow Sports Development Team for all their help, support and commitment.
“Competitions like the London Youth Games are very important, as it gives the kids an opportunity to play, learn, develop and enjoy the sports. It gives kids the chance to play at different level and improve their skills and abilities.
The 10 over format for Year 8 and under pupils made for a thrilling day’s cricket with the capital’s finest young players revelling in the atmosphere of playing at the home of cricket.
Amongst those enjoying the action was England under 19s international Kishen Velani who represented Redbridge at the London Youth Games in 2007 and 2008. He said: “This event encourages youngsters to get to know each other around London.
“Counties can come in and if they see any talent they can give them a chance. Fortunately for me, I played then went to Essex and then got picked up for England. Who knows we could be seeing another England player here?”
Indoor Cricket is one of over 30 sports in the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games, Europe’s largest annual youth sports event.
A record 104,463 young Londoners took part in the record-breaking 2012 Games. The 2013 London Youth Games will be the biggest in history featuring 85 competitions across 33 sports and 27 event days, culminating in finals week at the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace in July where the overall winning borough are awarded the Jubilee Trophy.
HARROW BOROUGH TEAM:
Hemanshu Hirani (Captain), Hamish Jayacumar, Beaven Fernando, Stefaan Fernando, Thomas Hudson, Vidoosha Jayawardne, Saahil Patel, Saahil Shah, Rohan Sharma, Amaan Lakhani, Ayushman Sanyal, Max John, Raj Kanagaraj (Team Manager), Chandra Hirani (Coach), Tharshan Kanagaraj (Coach)